Workflow: The humble typewriter through rose-coloured glasses

Notebooks, typewriters, fountain pens: All should by rights be dead, foully killed off by the computer. But they live on.....

iCloud Drive: The danger with Optimised Storage file placeholders

iCloud Drive works seamlessly, but did you know that it is easy to lose your data forever if you move files to an another location, such as Dropbox?

Fax Machine: RIP, good and faithful servant

Goodbye fax, it was nice knowing you. I cannot remember when I last had to send or receive a fax, so I'm opting out of this bit of 20th-century technology.

Two years ago I had my dedicated fax line disconnected and pensioned off the old HP all-in-one. But withdrawal set in and I signed up for the admirable MyFax service "just in case". For £5 a month I got a dedicated fax number and the ability to receive and send faxes  without the inconvenience of telephone lines and paper-handling contraptions. After paying MyFax over £100 and neither receiving nor sending a fax, it is time to quit.

Fax was an important means of communication in my business and reigned supreme until the mid-90s when email began to take over for all non-secure communication. But back in the mid seventies I was unaware of the potential impact of a machine that could transmit text and pictures.

One evening I was vexed to find one of my major competitors as large as life on a BBC current affairs television programme with a new-fangled device he was promoting. This early evening daily spot was to die for at the time and there was my hated colleague stealing the limelight with something new and interesting.

This wonder was in twin form -- one enormous electronic box sitting in the London studio and the other in Cardiff. My bête noir was confidently feeding a sheet of paper into the Cardiff-based box while the nation waited for a "facsimile" to appear out of the similar box in London. Nothing came, zilch, massive failure and I witnessed a red-faced competitor. To my eternal shame I  felt extreme Schadenfreude, but at least I was in at the birth.

Now I am in at the end, just as I was in Berlin on November 9, 1989 when the Wall fell. End of an era. And RIP, fax machine. You helped bring down Communism by your ability to transmit illicit truth; you deserve peace.

Evernote turbo sync and web clipper

I've been a great fan of Evernote ever since the service was launched in 2008. This free cloud storage service enables you to save...

Moneydance: iPhone app makes the best even better

Without a doubt the best accounts package for the Mac is Mondeydance. It's not the prettiest, but it is rock solid and does everything you could reasonably expect of an accounts package. The joy of it is that you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like and it is suitable for beginners right through to professional book-keepers. Unlike many personal accounts packages, the "categories" - to show income and expenditure under various headings - are not simply tags but fully-functioning accounts which allow proper journalling to keep even your accountant happy. Yet the beginner never sees this and doesn't need to know about it.

Moneydance will track all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, investments, assets and liabilities.

Now, for the first time, we have an iPhone app (it also works on the iPad, of course) which syncs with the desktop program. Up to now I've been entering raw data into Pocket Money on the iPhone - that is also a wonderful stand-alone app if that's what you need - but now have just one home for all my entries. For a V1 release, the Moneydance iPhone app (it's free, by the way) is outstanding. It's not intended as a full accounts package as, for instance, Pocket Money, but as an adjunct to the desktop package it is just right.

One of the big advantages of the desktop version of Moneydance is that there are versions for most platforms, including Mac, Windows and Linux. The data file is universal so you can save your data on a Mac and then open it on a Windows machine. I store my data file on Dropbox so the latest version is available wherever I'm working. A couple of years ago I had cause to thank Moneydance for this universality. My MacBook gave up the ghost while I was away from home. I desperately needed to access my accounts data (which I had on a backup disk) so I borrowed a PC, downloaded the app from the Moneydance site and was able to open and work on my file with no problems.

I can thoroughly recommend Moneydance for the Mac. It costs about £30, plus local taxes. 

Dropbox: How to recover when Dropbox sync fills your computer’s drive

My three-year-old 11in MacBook Air has what was once considered a commodious disk—all 256GB of it. But these days, especially with large RAW files, it really isn’t that much. I had taken my eye off the ball and, of course, the day of reckoning had to happen while I was away from home on my Greek island. Ever since I arrived last Wednesday, Dropbox had been churning along, stretching the Air’s processor to the limit, and first reported “downloading file list” and then “syncing files”: All pretty normal stuff except that with my glacial 1GB broadband, the procedure was taking days rather than hours.

Pre-Tech Office (Part I): Office work in the historic 1960s

What was it like to work in an office in the 1960s, almost completely without technology of any sort? This is the first in...

Lightroom CC and the disappearing Nik Collection

Since I upgraded to Lightroom Creative Cloud subscription-based applications my Nik Software plugins have been working flawlessly. Right click on an image, go to "Edit In" and the full list of available plugins was presented. Last weekend, however, I noticed that all, with the exception of Color Efex Pro for some reason, had disappeared from the Edit dialogue box. I immediate suspected foul play involving a big dose of housekeeping done the previous day.

Smartphone keyboard meets its Waterloo

Time was when I thought a physical keyboard on a mobile organiser, or PDA as we called them then, was the be all...

Subscriptions: Ulysses joins the growing band of drip-feeders

Are you becoming irritated by the trend to subscription pricing for software? It is beginning to become a nuisance, with dozens of suppliers drip feeding on our bank accounts. Mike wonders if enough is enough following yesterday's news from Ulysses.....